This past weekend our neighbors in Alberta sustained a hail storm that resulted in what may be record breaking in terms of cost. Insurers are looking at nearly half-a-billion dollars in damages. While BC may not receive the same annual level of hail that the prairie provinces do, we are certainly no strangers to its damaging effects. In the Okanagan for instance, orchard growers sustain losses almost every summer season as ice pellets come raining down on crops. So far in 2020, BC has received notable amounts of hail in January, March, April, and May, and with thunderstorm alerts going out at the onset of June many are expecting an unprecedented downpour. Hailstones are formed when thunderstorm updrafts carry rain droplets into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere where they freeze before violently descending upon the earth surface. As summer thunderstorms become more frequent, BC homeowners are wondering how they can protect their property from being pounded by hailstones. Let’s find out.
5 Tips to Protecting Your Household from Summer Season Hailstorms in British Columbia
1. Know Your Risk
Before you batten down the hatches, it’s important to assess the risk of hailstorm damage to your property. Topography is a predictor of hail occurrence, and one region that has among the highest of hail frequencies in Canada is the Interior of British Columbia. While all BC homeowners should be mindful and keep up to date on weather alerts through the summer, BC Interior residents must take the following to heart more than most.
2. Secure Your Roofing and Gutters
Your roofing and gutter system is your primary line of defense against hailstones. If in disrepair or if elements (shingles, gutters, downspouts, etc.) are poorly installed hail can instantly damage materials on impact. In addition, a build-up of hailstones in your gutters will add excessive weight which can cause your gutters to sag and even collapse, allowing ice and rainwater to fall to the foundation of your home causing further exterior and interior damage. In some instances hail will create a dam, and accompanying rain will collect and overflow on to your property, further compounding the risk of damage. Have your entire roofing and gutter system inspected, make necessary repairs, and replace parts as needed.
3. Tarp Outdoor Possessions
Patio furniture, aluminum sheds, BBQs, and assorted recreational wares are all susceptible to expensive hailstorm damage. Given that hail is often unexpected, you don’t want to haul it all indoors at the hint of an impending storm. Instead, invest in tarps that have been manufactured using canvas or polyester that has been coated with polyurethane, or made of polyethylene, both of which will provide a strong, flexible, rain and hail resistant barrier. Lighter tarps should also be placed over designed landscaping and backyard gardens to prevent damage to plants and assorted flora.
4. Secure Susceptible Windows
While you can install storm shutters on all windows on your property, it can be an expensive investment and may be overkill, especially if you don’t live in an especially hazardous zone such as the BC coast. That said, you will want to secure the more vulnerable windows, those that are in the direct trajectory of falling hail. If you have a skylight on your roof a large hailstone can come crashing down and into the interior space. This opens up the proverbial and literal floodgates, allowing further hail and rainwater to come in and wreak havoc. To prevent this, install a shutter that can be closed from the inside over all skylights. That said, if you live in a region that is distinctly characterized by directional winds (SW in the BC interior, etc.) you may consider installing shutters on windows which face the brunt of those winds, because when hail arrives it will likely come from that direction.
5. Update Your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy
Even if you take the necessary precautions addressed above, there are still vulnerabilities. For example, if you leave on a family road trip this summer, there will be no one at home to secure your property and possessions in the event of a hailstorm. To hedge your financial risk for this and a wide variety of hailstorm scenarios, speak to an independent insurance broker today. Your broker can recommend property damage coverage that offers protection of your property against damage or loss from hail along with other forms of extreme weather. Contact Park Insurance today to schedule your consultation.